Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vintage Brooches

My love affair with vintage brooches started when I was a little girl. My Nan would get her beautiful carved jewellery box down from high on a shelf in her closet and I would sit on her bed for what seemed like hours admiring them. It always seems to come back to childhood memories doesn't it?

This faux pearl lapel pin was my Nan's. She would wear it on the collar of an apricot linen suit. Nan was always well dressed; I used to think she even looked glamorous in her nightie and slippers, as she always wore high heeled slippers with pink fluffy feathers and a few sequins thrown in for good measure.

The two blue brooches were a Church jumble sale find in the Isle of Man when I visited there in my backpacking days; before the thought of lumpy beds and shared refrigerator space appalled me. The purple sparkly one is from an antique shop in Mill Street in St Peter Port here in Guernsey.

The pink heart, which is one of B2's favourites, is from the same Guernsey shop, while the star is an Isle of Man find from my last visit this July; only £3.00!

The larger brooch is from the same Guernsey antique shop. There are about seven antique shops in Mill Street. If you visit Guernsey they are well worth a look. Be aware however that most of them do not open until 10.00am and some are closed on Mondays. If you are sight seeing in St Peter Port Mill Street is only a five minute walk from the high street.

The flower brooch is an eBay purchase and the little bow hair clip is from a car boot sale. You just never know when a treasure will turn up.

I wore the larger of these two crowns to B2's 6th Birthday party. It was a Princess theme, so I donned my only pink jumper and pinned on the crown. I did look a sight for that party; not because of the crown but because I had bought some lovely pink and white helium quality balloons for the occasion (I mean we must match mustn't we). I was merrily blowing one up about two hours before the Princesses were due to arrive when... BANG.... it exploded ON my eyeball. Off we all dashed to the doctor's surgery, anesthetic drops, dye, a special light to highlight the damage and a massive eye patch later we were back home just in time to throw on my pink jumper and brooch and hope that I didn't frighten the guests when they arrived at the door. I had to retell my ridiculous story seven times to each parent as they dropped their kids off just in case they thought I was some weird Pirate Princess. Thankfully the anesthetic lasted until the guests had all left. The large crown was from eBay and the small one from the Guernsey shop (they were having a 60% off sale so I made the most of the opportunity).

These are two brooches from our recent trip to the Isle of Man. I was feeling a little ancestrally patriotic that day and thought it would be nice to have a Manx memento.

These china flowers constitute the largest part of my collection. The are plentiful in the charity shops at the Bridge and never cost more than a pound. Most of them are chipped here and there but when you display them together the imperfections only lend to their charm.

Speaking of displaying - I intend to find a large, ornate frame, paint it white and place waded velvet (colour is undecided as yet, although I am open to suggestions) inside the picture and pin them all on as a piece of wall art. Much nicer to admire them than have them tucked away in a box somewhere. I haven't found the right frame yet but I'm sure one will turn up eventually.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Decorator Ideas

I have been needing a little inspiration of late. I know the style I want to have in our home: vintage, a little tatty round the edges with a bit of retro thrown into the mix to create a truly confused look ;) - sounds a bit like me really; vintage, tatty, retro and more than a little confused on the odd occasion. It needs to be family friendly and not so polished that the kids are in constant fear of smashing something. Oh wait, that is me being in constant fear of the kids smashing something, they tend to charge on regardless.

Anyway I saw this book, 'Simply Country' by Liz Bauwens and Alexandra Campbell, on Amazon whilst perusing for Christmas gifts to send back to Australia. It was a one click purchase, as Mr Bee calls it. I liked the cover so I clicked, I was not in a book shop so I couldn't flick, so I just clicked.

It arrived a few days later and I realised that I should have flicked before purchasing this book. The cover is truly fabulous however the rest of the photos weren't really what I was looking for; not really a failing of the book I suppose but rather an unresearched purchase on my part. I refused to give up on it so I took it to the gym for reading material on the cross trainer for two weeks and ploughed through every word whilst trying not to sweat on it. It grew on me. There are some good ideas but not the 'wow' factor; at least for me anyway.

Next came 'Thrift Chic' a book by the same authors (I only noticed this four days ago but I have had this book for about several weeks). This book has a few lovely photos and ideas but I feel it is really just jumping on the bandwagon of Vintage Style Revival, so popular at the moment. Once again it just lacked that special something I was looking for.

This is one idea which I loved from 'Thrifty Chic' , a painted stair runner. There are instructions for this project in the book. I must stress I am not saying that these two books are not worth a look but rather that they were not what I was looking for in the inspiration stakes.

However this book, 'Bazaar Style' by Selina Lake and Joanna Simmons, is absolutely gorgeous. I first saw this book on the Henhouse blog. What great and simple ideas. I LOVE this book. It is just off beat enough for me.

I covet this chair. There is quite a bit of this style of furniture around in Australia as it seems to sell in China town stores all over the country, of course it is not red but rather a very high gloss varnish over the wood. This is an true resurrection of something no-one wanted (the chair was apparently found in a skip - lucky them).

The use of hundreds of small pieces of wallpaper on this fireplace looks amazing and the chairs are equally wonderful. Am I gushing? I don't mean to, well not too much. Unfortunately our fireplace is 'rustic' to say the very least and does not have a flat surface in sight.

There is just page after page of fabulous ideas in this book. The wonderful thing is that as it contains all vintage object you can look at the basic idea, see what similar grouping you might have around the house and let it grow from there.

So of my three latest decorating purchases it was third time lucky for me. 'Bazaar Style' lives by my bed at the moment just in case I want a quick decorator dose to dream about before dozing off.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Matryoshka Doodling

Mr Bee took B3 to a birthday party this afternoon. B1 was granted his weekly ration of the dread DS and was happily beeping away to himself in his bedroom. B2 and and I took the opportunity for a little quiet, together time. As any parent with more than one child knows it can be very difficult to get one on one time with children and as the Bumble Bee'rs always seem to travel in a pack it can be near impossible, or at least feel that way.

When I asked B2 what she would like to do I knew the answer before she spoke it as the request is always the same. 'Draw please Mummy.' So we doodled matryoshka's. The hands on mine are a little too reminiscent of the Penguin from one of the Batman movies but never mind, B2 loved it.

B2 did a fabulous job. I especially love the Pegasus pony in the background. We have rather alot of Pegasus pony drawing dotted around our house.

It was so nice to have time to chat, just the two of us, doodling side by side. I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vintage Pillowcases

I love vintage pillowcases. I think a vintage pillow case adds a little individuality to bed linen; after all you can be fairly confident that no-one else will have exactly the same one especially when we are talking about hand embroidered cases.

This pillow case is revers able; white with pink roses and pale blue daisies on one side,

and pink with white polka dots on the other. I have a pair of these which is very handy in avoiding arguments when B2 and B3 want the same one on their beds.

This blue floral print is an op shop find as is the rose and tulip case below.

These two are B2's favourites. She tends to like pillow cases covered in big and blousy blooms rather than the plainer variety with just a little embroidery across the bottom.

This pillow case was an eBay purchase. It came with a matching double bed flat sheet. The sheet has a lovely border across the top so when you make the bed and fold it down over the bedspread it adds a pink and rosy embellishment.

Now we are getting into vintage American territory. This crinoline lady was part of a group of pillow cases I purchases from a vintage linen shop on US eBay. The muted colours are lovely matched with a plain pink or purple pillow case; having two girls we have both pink and purple cases in a variety of shades, of course.

I have a pair of these butterfly cases, once again in sweet, feminine shades suitable for a little girl's room. Poor old B1 misses out, not that I expect he cares, but they do not seem to have much in the way of boy oriented embroideries. There are a few cowboys but that is about it. He is quite happy with his modern Ben 10, TMNT and Marvel Heroes linen instead.

Just a few close ups so you can see all the work that goes into these pillow cases. I think all of them are from patterns which were purchased in the form of a transfer, applied to the case and stitched over the top of the design.

These ones remind me of a girlfriend back in Australia. Her favourite colour is yellow and she grows the most gorgeous yellow roses which is no mean feat in the Brisbane climate.

This one is my absolute favourite. I love things decorated with bluebirds and roses. I have quite a few pieces of china following in that vein. Any vintage linen with bluebird motifs can go for quite a bit of money which is why I only have one lonely pillow case. I simply can't justify the cost of the case plus the shipping from the US. Never mind, I keep hunting for the elusive bluebird bargain though; you never know you luck.

I hope you have enjoyed a brief wander through the depths of my linen cupboard. I think I have a few more pillow cases lurking in there somewhere but we can look at those another day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Godzilla Lives

When B1 saw Granddad's present he announced knowledgeably, 'Oh, is Granddad sending another package soon with his legs?'

Mr Bee then proceeded to scare B2 and B3 by moving Godzilla when they came over to get a closer look. B2 got cross at her Dad for scaring her. B3 was unconvinced that he was harmless and asked if he was dead.
Apparently not.
I think he will make an excellent scarecrow. Our neighbours already think we are a little odd, lets just fan the flames a little.

Presents from Granddad

A parcel arrived this morning from my Dad. It had three separate address labels on it. I guess he wanted to be sure it got here.

Whenever I received a parcel wrapped in brown paper I can hear Julie Andrews warbling away in my head. I think I have watched the ‘Sound of Music’ way to many times.

Inside the contents were securely wrapped in a second layer of paper; newspaper this time.

Madness does not run in my family.

Although I did give one of my friends a large plastic fish for her eighteenth birthday. She loved it together with its accompanying jar of rice wrapped in green velvet contact.

There was no note.

Did Julie Andrews sing the theme to Godzilla? Now all I can hear is Julie Andrews say ‘Godzilla, Godzilla,’ over and over with a lighter flame being waved in front of her eyes.

Thanks Dad for this gift that will keep on giving. Godzilla is currently soaking in a sink filled with hot water and very strong Detol. Sadly he smells as if he has been lurking in someone’s pond and if I am completely honest he looks a little like it to. B1 will no doubt claim him and I will never be rid of Godzilla’s smiling face until B1 moves out of home.

I’ll see if I can find a gift of such class for you too Dad….a garden gnome flashing his butt perhaps.

Love you Dad.

Madness does not run in my family ;P

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What are sloes?

After my blackberry crumble post I have had a few ladies ask me what sloes are. Well let me enlighten you, sloe expert that I am, having never even heard of them myself until last year.

Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn bush. They are a dark blue/purple with greenish flesh. They have a seed at their centre and are very reminiscent of a small, very, very sour plum. They grow wild along the hedgerows in Guernsey in great numbers if you know where to look. I have found a fabulous ‘stash’ near the Reservoir which I hope will still be there when I go back in a few weeks time.

Now that I have picked and frozen some I have been doing a spot of research on the internet and have read quite varying reports about when to pick them. Quite a few people say that you should pick them after the first frost, yet others say that you can pick them before the first frost and freeze them to the same effect.

Well we have picked ours before the first frost and frozen them but I think I will collect some more after the first frost, cook both and see if there is a difference.

Some people also say that you need to prick them all over with a pin before using them but the ‘freezing’ group says that you do not need to do this step if you freeze them first, so we shall see.

I’ll post the results after the first frost. I’m making sloe gin and if I can collect enough i.e. if my helpers will aid in this endeavour, I will also make some sloe jam. I’ve never made jam before so this could be interesting.
PS. After writing the above I have just found more information which suggests that the fruit will not be ripe until the end of October, into November. I may just have to throw out our frozen sloes and call them a practice run, picking more later on in the season. Oh well, live and learn.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pink Saturday - Rosey Trios

Welcome to Bumble Bee Cottage's Pink Saturday and thankyou to Beverly of How Sweet the Sound for hosting it. Here are a few of my ever growing collection of trios to share with you.

This is Paragon's 'Golden Emblem' pattern. Paragon China was introduced in 1903 by Star China Co. and continued until it became part of Royal Doulton in 1972. Royal Doulton continued to produce china under the name of Paragon until 1992. I have several Paragon trios and I find their patterns are a little bit different and unusual; I suppose this is why I like them so much.

This is Aynsley's 'June Rose' pattern. Aynsley China was started by a single potter, John Aynsley, in 1775. It was one of John Aynsley's descendants who founded Paragon China. My favourite colour is blue but I am very partial to roses so the lovely blue ribbons on this trio appealed to me greatly. I had never seen this pattern before as a trio, nor since, so I am pleased that I bought it straight away rather than my usual trick of 'thinking it over' only to go back and find that someone else has snapped it up.

This is Royal Albert's 'American Beauty' pattern. As with Aynsely China Royal Albert was started by one man, Thomas Wild, in 1896 in Stoke-on-Trent. Many people tend to think of Royal Albert china as somewhat over-the-top when it comes to their designs; but as they have produced thousands of different patterns over the years there really is one to suit everyone's taste. I also have several Royal Albert trios and all are so very different you would not link them in anyway until you turn over the china and read the base.

I hope you have been inspired by this brief look into the history of a few of my favourite china manufacturers. Please click on the links to find out more if your interest has been piqued and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

It is Foodie Friday, so thankyou once again the the lovely Gollum for hosting it. Last Sunday we went blackberry picking. It was the second last day of the school Summer holidays and it was glorious. We wandered the lanes near the Reservoir for about an hour and a half with beach buckets in hand.

Between the five of us we managed to collect approximately one and a half kilograms of blackberries; which isn’t too bad really considering the amount of surreptitious sampling that was going on. B3 didn’t even bother trying to sneak them she just nabbed them as often as she could and jammed them into her mouth before they could be rescued and put back into the communal bucket.

The sloes were also out so we collected about one and a half kilograms of them as well. They are currently in the freezer in a bag as this apparently mimics the effect of first frost, which is when you are supposed to pick them. I’ve never cooked with sloes before so this should make for some strange experimental flavours I think. B2 and I both sampled one and I think it took about ten minutes for our lips to recover from the resulting pucker – that is one sour fruit.

I cooked the blackberries for about ten minutes over a low heat with just the few drops of water left on them from washing and three tablespoons of sugar.

B2 and I whipped up a quick crumble to topping:

Crumble Topping

¾ cup of Self Raising Flour
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
80g of softened butter
½ cup of brown sugar.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and rub the butter through the dry ingredients until the mix resembles bread crumbs. This takes about ten minutes or so, or 15 with help from B2. Then sprinkle over the top of your fruit mix and bake in a 180*C oven for 30 minutes.

We combined the blackberries with some of the apple sauce from the freezer and we doubled the amount of crumble as it was a very large batch.

The timer went ‘ding’ but I was reading a few blogs in the study so the top came out a little darker than was intended but it still tasted lovely. Note to self - the timer goes 'ding' come immediately don't just read a few more pages or on your head be it. It is very tasty with home-made custard or cream or ice-cream, or all three in fact but I am trying to be ‘good’ so we just had it plain, hot from the oven. It came out of the oven at 3.30pm and was all eaten by 7.30pm, with dinner in between. There were three very full tummies that night.